The question I often get from clients is “can I travel?” Usually they are inquiring about foreign travel and usually back to their home country. My attempt to lighten the moment is to respond – yes you can travel however you won’t be permitted to return to the USA.
Foreign travel aside the other very real and probably more pressing issue is travel within the United States. Even though you may have lived and worked in the United States without documents for many years – even own your own home, a very successful business and have United States citizen children – traveling in the United States can be fraught with risk.
Generally speaking no one has to prove their immigration status to government authorities without reasonable suspicion unless there is a warrant or an actual arrest. Immigr ation warrants are extremely rare. Indeed, a warrant must be issued by a judge to be of any legal affect despite the fact the ICE issues it’s own warrants on a regular basis. These warrants re basically without any legal authority.
Backtracking a bit, traveling by plane in the United States is virtually unavailable to undocumented individuals because government identification is required.
That leaves travel by car, bus or train. The primary concern is where you go in the United States. Fortunately all you have to do is pay attention to the media and you can pretty much guess where it’s a bad idea to travel. Certain regions and states are not shy about communicating their disdain for immigrants. California is a sanctuary state. This was in the media often as our previous president attempted to punish California for this.
I always warn my clients to avoid traveling across the South – in particular in Arizona and Texas. Recent history has been full of arrests on highways and buses. A search of the internet will turn up many videos – shot by travelers who are pulled over by CBP and asked to show identification and proof of immigration status. The videos are often from individuals who refuse to comply and repeatedly ask officials if they are under arrest. They are more often then not allowed to proceed because the stop was illegal.
More often, I hear about folks who traveled by bus and were arrested when CBP illegally boarded the bus and demanded immigration paperwork from passengers. Long overdue justice was finally delivered in Washington state. (Don’t expect Texas to follow suit anytime soon) Greyhound agreed in a Consent Decree in Federal Court last month to pay $2.2 million in restitution for allowing CBP to conduct illegal searches. The money will go to migrants who were wrongfully detained, arrested and in some cases deported. “Greyhound failed to warn customers of the sweeps, misrepresented its role in allowing the sweeps to occur and subjected its passengers to discrimination based on race, skin color or national origin, according to the attorney general, Bob Ferguson.”N.Y. Times. 09/29/2021
For it’s part Greyhound stated that it did not condone the illegal searches and seemed to lay the blame on drivers and other employees who may have been intimidated by the officers. Greyhound states that going forward they will distribute informational cards for drivers to hand to officers to explain the company’s position.
While Greyhound may be sincere in its response its history would seem to tell a different story as the company has allowed illegal searches for years throughout the United States. It would seem that the company has acquiesced or turned a blind eye, to borrow from Asylum law language, and allowed these searches.
Unfortunately the fine seems like a slap on the wrist and probably merely the cost of doing business for the carrier. Maybe the settlement will inspire others to take up the cause and make it hurt a bit more.